But, the reality is that with the Bimota DB1 and Ducati TT1 projects I simply bit off more than I could chew and neither machine is ready for prime time. I've been kicking off the season with the DOCC event for 14 years and this is the first time I've missed the deadline.
A whole raft of factors have conspired to push both projects backwards, but the bottom line is that they're the most challenging builds I've tackled and the business took more attention than I expected this past winter. And some of the business projects we've embarked on have required all or part of one or both of the machines, so I've been swapping motors in and out of frames with increasing regularity.
So the TT1 for example, is well on its way - but half of it is in Montreal, where our exhaust systems are being built and the other half is back at the shop. I've got two frames 'cause the ex-Leoni/Adamo DM frame went to Jeff Nash (who now owns the rest of the bike) and he replaced it with a new large diameter, thin wall DM frame - which incidentally, will take a big-block engine. Back at the shop, the new frame's Stadium shock reservoir mount's done, the electrics panel is finished and a tidy, new Scitsu tach's been adapted to the fairing mount. As I pick away at the new frame's wiring harness, the old frame sits in Montreal with the completed front-end and wheels are tied to Shannon's old F1 engine and one of Palmer's old swing arms. The front end is off Lon Allen's old racer and got the full-zoot Lindemann treatment many years ago. The fender's Bimota DB1SR, the wheels & rotors are off my old 853 F1 (very cool to have some of it on this machine) and the fairing is an original Romanelli item. 195mm triples, milled fork lowers, 280mm floaters and Brembo 30/34 calipers up front and 260mm floaters with one of Carlo Leoncini's gorgeous floating caliper mounts to match the rear-sets I bought from him.
The motor's still on the bench, but just about done. Finalize the cam timing, wire the pick-ups, install the clutch and we'll have a nice, old-school small block with serious J Precision heads, NCR #7s, 12:1 compression and lot's of lightened components. I'd have been lost without the ongoing support from Gary Palmer and Mike Weber as I worked through the process of assembling both of the engines.
Part of the reason the TT1's taking so long is the revelation that the best way to build these things is the way NCR put them together back in the day - and that means lots of fabrication. I was lucky enough to get some meaningful guidance from Lou Saif and Bruce Meyers and but for a couple of fairing brackets to redo, I'm about done with the whittling, filing, hacking and sanding phase. There's the fairing to trim, oil lines, brake lines and throttles to make - but that stuff is a walk in the park compared to the stuff I've been wrestling with to-date.
The Bimota DB1 SR project is probably at the same level of completion as the TT1, but the work involved in trimming and fitting the race bodywork kit that Airtech put together is overshadowing everything else..
It took a while to figure out a decent strategy for ditching the immense OEM battery box that blocks most of the rear cylinder's airflow, but I'm pretty happy with the result; possible with one of the spiffy little Shorai batteries. The Dyna mini coils were kind of a disappointment 'cause at the end of the day, their design doesn't really buy you any big benefit in terms of the amount of space they occupy and the HT wire connection really limits mounting options as well. They are ligher though...
One of the biggest challenges was to find an aftermarket shock that would work with the really crazy packaging of the rising rate linkage. At the end of the day we decided that we'd run a Stadium upsidedown and use the ride-height adjustment eyelet to give us the much needed clearance at the rocker.
And then there's the PM wheels. I was delighted to be able to get my hands on a pair (again from Palmer) - until I started trying to adapt them to the DB1.. I only finished the job last week; with the completion of a scratch-built caliper hanger. Fran McDemott was kind enough to load a rectalgle of aluminum plate into his lathe and drill the two holes required and the rest was done with a hack saw and angle grinder. Well, except of course for the floating bushings which I was able to turn up on my little lathe. Note the drill pattern on the rear rotor.. It was on the wheel when I got it and and puts a smile on my face every time I see it, so it stays on the bike.
I spent hours trying to find a way to mount a set of fluid reservoirs to the bike so I could eliminate the completely impractical Bimota items that double as fork top nuts. Think about it.. The only way to fine tune M1Rs is to play with fluid levels and viscosities - and with the OEM set-up, you have to find a way to disconnect the reservoirs from the brake system (without losing any fluid) and then reconnect them after you fool around with the fluids. When I get really pissed-off about this I try and imagine the argument that must have occured somewhere in the final design process..
The DB1 motor's just about done as well; a Monjuich engine with lightened rotating bits from Ed Milich, seriously worked heads from J Precision and a 780 kit. I don't know what I'm in for with the Montjuich cams, but I guess that's all part of the exersize with these two small-block motors; I wanted to experience some of that old school, lumpy, hi-lift stuff before I got on with my life and simply dropped some really big motors into both of these bikes.
Or maybe I won't.. Maybe the lack of cubes and grunt will make me a better (read less lazy) rider. But I won't know 'till I get these damned projects finished.
I think there's an all-nighter or two in my future.